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A step by step guide: How to use a Carnet

December 19, 2019

It has been established: ATA Carnets make the import/export experience of non-commercial goods so much easier, however, the usage of this document, has its own complications and concerns. Many Carnet holders often show concern about when to use each part of the packet. Here’s an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide to simplifying these steps: 

#1- Clearing U.S. Customs

Departing from the U.S. - Use the Green Cover and Yellow Exportation Counterfoil (#1).

- During the very first departure from the U.S. using this Carnet package, as an authorized representative, sign the Green Cover the “J” box.

Then U.S. Customs must validate the ATA Carnet by signing and stamping the “H” box (this eliminates the need to complete a Certificate of Registration, a CBP form 4455). 

  • If your ATA Carnet package is not validated, Foreign Customs can deny entry of your goods.

- CBP notes the items leaving the U.S. in section box 1 of the yellow exportation counterfoil and stamps box 7.

- It is the Carnet holder’s responsibility is to ensure that CBP has indicated the correct items, especially in cases of partial or split shipments.

Reentering the U.S.- Use the Yellow reimportation counterfoil that is marked with the same number as the Yellow exportation counterfoil used during departure.

- CBP notes the items leaving the U.S. in section box 1 of the yellow exportation counterfoil and stamps box 7.

  • The U.S. Customs and Border Protection usually allows the reentry of goods in the U.S. even if the ATA Carnet has expired. This is only a limitation when you’re taking your goods into foreign countries, with an expired document.

- Present the ATA Carnet to CBP upon reentry

- In box 1 of the Yellow reimportation counterfoil, CBP will indicate the reentering items, then CBP will stamp box 6.

- Upon return to the U.S., the U.S. Customs must validate the Reimportation Counterfoil, as it is the last chance to resolve any possible claim from Foreign Customs.

#2- Clearing Foreign Customs

- Entering a Foreign Country- Use the White Importation counterfoil, along with its corresponding Importation Voucher.

- Complete sections D-F on the Importation Voucher, indicating the goods that are being brought back into the U.S., in Box ‘F’ (a). In Box ‘F’ (b), specify what you will be using the ATA Carnet for.

  • Example: trade show, sales sample, TV show, exhibition, etc

- Sign and date the Importation Voucher.

- Present the ATA Carnet to foreign customs officials upon entry.

- In Box 1 of the White Importation Counterfoil, indicate the goods that are entering.

  • Foreign customs officials are allowed to restrict any visit to less than a year, depending on the ATA Carnet expiration date. To make sure you’re in compliance, check in Box 2 of the counterfoil named as “Final Date for Reexportation/Production to the Customs of Goods.

- Foreign Customs then validates or approves the counterfoil and the voucher. They keep the latter for their records.

- Departing from a Foreign Country- Use the White Reexportation Counterfoil and Voucher that has the same number as the most recent Importation Counterfoil and Voucher.

- Complete sections D-F of the Reexportation Voucher. Indicate the departing items in Box ‘F’(a). Indicate the corresponding Importation voucher number in the second part of Box ‘F’ (a). When applicable, complete Section ‘F’ (b, c, d).

- Sign and date the Voucher.

- Present the ATA Carnet to foreign customs before departure,

- In Box 1 of the Reexportation Counterfoil, note all items that are departing the country.

- Foreign Customs then validates or approves the counterfoil and the voucher. They keep the latter to match with the Importation Voucher they kept at your arrival.

  • Items that are not reexported from the foreign country, are subject to applicable duties (taxes and possible penalties). They may also be charged what is called a regularization fee by foreign customs.

- Regardless if they’re lost, stolen, or destroyed.

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